With fall in full swing, San Francisco was the ideal destination for a little getaway over my birthday weekend! I always love visiting the pastel streets, hilly landscape, noisy cable cars, luscious parks, and of course the iconic Golden Gate bridge. It’s such a fun city to visit—whether you’ve been before or are new to the golden city, I highly recommend planning a visit in the near future!
To make trip planning a little bit easier, I put together all of my top travel to-dos in one
By Car- From Los Angeles, the drive is about 5.5-7 hours depending on the route. If you’re up for a road-trip I recommend taking the scenic route along PCH and stopping for lunch in Big Sur. Plus, it’s nice to have a car once you arrive in town.
By Plane– If you have the opportunity to book ahead, Virgin America periodically offers flights to San Francisco for a steal. SFO is the most conveniently located airport, but OAK is another option. Cheap flights is a great travel source.
By Train- Linking the major cities on the West Coast, the Amtrack Coast Starlight is another option for West Coast travelers.
The Westin St. Francis ($$$)– Located in the heart of Union Square, this upscale hotel is a great central option for a tourism focused visit. A stay includes tickets for the iconic cable cars located just steps away from the hotel and stylish room decor including crystal chandeliers.
The Fairmont ($$$)– Located atop Nob Hill, this iconic luxury hotel offers elegant rooms, grand ballrooms, afternoon tea, and is located in a central area without the touristy feel. (pictured left & right)
Air BNB ($-$$$$)– Always a great option when wanting to live like a local. My favorite Victorian spot in Pacific Heights is no longer listed, however I pulled a few great spots that stood out to me here, here, and here.
Mr. Holme’s Bakehouse: Home of insanely good pastries. I recommend the “cruffin” if you have 30+ minutes to spare in line. (pictured middle)
Rose’s: Open breakfast through dinner, this European inspired café knows how to brunch. The menu changes daily and all baked goods are made from scratch.
Zazie: The poached eggs and pancakes are to die for, plus tip is already included in the price. This french-inflected cafe is great for brunch and offers nice patio seating if you’re lucky enough to snag a table. (pictured left)
Neiman Marcus Rotunda: A classic restaurant for Afternoon Tea with views of Union Square and a breathtaking stained glass ceiling. (pictured right)
La Boulangerie: An anytime of day classic, french-inspired Bakery and Cafe.
The Italian Homemade Company: Located in Little Italy, this Italian deli and market knows homemade noodles and fresh simple sauces.
Belga: a Belgian-inspired Brasserie offering delicious bites and great people-watching in the Pacific Heights area.
Elephant Sushi: Family owned authentic sushi restaurant in the Russian Hill area. Be sure to call ahead and make a reservation, this place is always busy
Okoze Sushi: Nothing fancy just really good food.
Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters: A full-service coffee cafe offering espresso drinks, brewed coffee, and hand-crafted pour overs in the Cow Hollow neighborhood. (pictured middle & right)
Union Larder: A dream designed cheese, wine, and charcuterie bar.
Top of the Mark: An iconic cocktail spot with 360-degree views of the city.
Golden Gate park: You can roam for hours and still discover something new every visit! Some of my favorites within the park include the Dutch Windmills in Queen Whilemina garden, the Rose Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers, putting at the Golf course, the Japanese Tea Garden, and Strawberry Hill on Stow Lake.
Golden Gate Bridge: Driving across the bridge in the wee hours of the morning is a nice option if you have a car, or if you’re feeling up to it, renting bikes is a great active way to see the city’s landmark. (pictured left)
Lombard Street: Snap a few pics at the always busy, famous winding road. To beat the crowds go first thing in the morning.
Alamo Hill: A prime destination for an afternoon picnic with views of the famous “Painted Ladies”. (pictured middle)
Cable Cars: If possible, I suggest a ride early in the morning, late at night, or from one of the mid-line stops to avoid lines. The Cable Car Museum is open 10-5 if you’d like to know more about the iconic cars. (pictured right)
Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf : Buzzing with tourists, but it’s a fun area to check off the travel list and doesn’t take much time to see.
Alcatraz: Another tourism favorite
AT&T Park | Levi Stadium: Live like a local and catch a Giants game or a 49-ers game depending on the season.
SFMOMA: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for the art-appreciating visitor
Fort Mason Center Farmer’s Market: Open Sundays 9:30-1:30, this bay market flourishes with flowers, fresh produce, and lots of delicious food samples.
Hayes Valley: Filled with cool boutiques and independent bookstores. Be sure to stop by Aether, a stylish contemporary shop made out of shipping containers.
Marin Headlands: Open 9:30- 4:30, this hilly peninsula across the Gate Gate bridge is great for an active day with stunning views of San Francisco. (pictured left)
Soul Cycle: If you have 45 minutes to “tap it back” check out one of the three San Francisco locations. (pictured right)
Coat: A great trench is a must. I love this Burberry trench coat (pictured right) but this one, this one, this one, and this under $50 steal are also great options. If you prefer a tailored coat, this blush pink jacket (pictured left) and this cream coat fit beautifully!
Cardigan: With the weather often changing, it’s best to pack a cozy throw on cardigan. This Ralph Lauren one is my most worn piece, however I also love this Vince one (40% off), this Brandy Melville one, and this Urban Outfitters one.
Transitional dress: When traveling it’s nice to have pieces that can transition from day to night. This white dress (similar pictured left) is a great day to night piece. Check out this one, this one, and this one too. A jumpsuit is another good option, especially for a more active schedule.
Comfortable shoes: I always travel with a good pair of espadrilles (pictured middle). I suggest this pair, these ones, or this pair. Additionally, a good pair of boots are nice to have when walking around the hilly city. These Aquatalia weather proof boots are a must-have. These booties and these OTK boots are nice packable options as well.
Jeans: I always pack my favorite classic pair of blue jeans and a pair of black jeans for night time. This Rag and Bone high waisted pair is my favorite classic pair, and this AG pair is my first-choice for dark jeans. Frame, and Joe’s Jeans have great options are well. Also, you can never go wrong with a killer pair of boyfriend jeans.
Accessories: A reversible belt, a neutral scarf, a nice hat or beanie, an everyday watch, and a reliable handbag are essential. I prefer a cross-body small bag (pictured right) or an everyday satchel.
Overall, you really can’t go wrong when visiting San Francisco! Just be sure to pack layers, bring a good coat, a trusty camera, and enjoy the beautiful bay city!
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